The young Florida Gators were flying high, looking for all the world like the nation's most potent and complete women's lacrosse team. Then the Syracuse Orange worked their magic again to get another dramatic comeback victory — and hand the Gators their second loss in sudden victory overtime of the year.
Sarah Holden beat Mikey Meagher at the 2:02 mark of double overtime to get Syracuse to the NCAA Tournament final with a 14-13 win over Florida on Friday night. For the Gators, it was a bitter end to what seemed like a dream run to the highest heights the program has ever achieved.
Florida built a lead that stretched to seven goals at 11-4 and 12-5 in the second half, with Shannon Gilroy pumping in five goals and Brittney Dashiell scoring four to stake the Gators to a huge advantage. But Syracuse dominated the final 20 minutes of play, ripping off an 8-1 run and allowing just three Florida shots in the final 17:15 of regulation to send the game to overtime.
And while Florida got a stop and a draw control to allow itself a chance to score last in the second three-minute period of the first overtime, the Gators' heartbreak would only get more acute, its collapse more seismic: Gabi Wiegand scored with nine seconds left in that first overtime, giving the Gators a seemingly unassailable 14-13 lead, but her goal was disallowed after a stick check revealed illegal pocket depth, and the Gators were forced to head to the second overtime period.
Syracuse had given Florida its last loss of the season prior to the Gators' 15-game winning streak in sudden victory in March. On Friday, the Orange gave the precocious Gators another — and a painful memory to consider for months and months to come.
We'll have more on this game after a bit of time to reflect.